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Thursday, 24 October 1974
Page: 1936

The PRESIDENT - Order! Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.

Senator James McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Although the evidence was taken in camera the witnesses who gave the evidence were aware of the Committee's intention to publish the transcript. There is something of a printing problem concerning this transcript which will be available in quantity on Friday next week and can then be obtained on request from the Secretary of the Committee or the Senate records office. I understand that any honourable senator requiring a copy before then may be accommodated if he applies to the Secretary of the Committee who will do his best to provide any honourable senator with a copy of the transcript. The transcript of the public evidence given to the Committee on the general reference- that is on matrimonial matters generally which were before the Committee as long ago as 1971- was tabled on 24 September 1974 and is available from the Secretary of the Committee or the Senate Records Office. It is understood that the final report will be made available in Australian Government Publishing Service shops in the eastern States by Tuesday of next week and in other States shortly afterwards. The interim report will be available in the same places shortly afterwards. In the meantime, ample copies are available from the Secretary of the Committee or the records office. The submissions mentioned in the appendices of the report are available from the Secretary.

Senator Cavanagh - I would like to ask a question in relation to the transcript to which Senator James McClelland referred. It is the first time it has come to my knowledge that evidence taken in camera will be printed. I thought the greatest secrecy surrounded such evidence. Senator James McClelland has said that the witnesses were aware that the evidence would be published. I was wondering whether, before we embark on this new procedure, we should have some consultation with the witnesses concerned to see if they have any objection to publication of their in camera evidence. I am mainly concerned with the reaction that the publishing of in camera evidence may cause from future witnesses who wish to tell a parliamentary committee something in confidence. They may not be so willing to give in camera evidence if they think there is a possibility that the evidence will be published later.

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